The private health sector has been growing rapidly in many low and middle income countries, yet not enough is known about its sources of finance or characteristics of its users. Moreover, health care reform measures are leading to alterations in the mix of public and private finance and provision, increasing further the need for information. This paper presents and evaluates some research methods which can be used to collect information relevant to considering policies on the public/private mix. They comprise a household survey, a health diary and interview survey, a bed census, and a health resource survey. Each method is described as it was used in a study in a large urban setting in Thailand, and strengths and weaknesses of the methods are identified. The use of data to estimate the shares of public and private finance and provision, and particularly private sources of finance of public hospitals and public sources of finance for private hospitals, is demonstrated. Policy issues highlighted by the data are identified.
Health Policy and Planning (1998) 13 (3) 234-248 [doi:10.1093/heapol/13.3.234]